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Book Review - Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

Book: Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

Author: Seth Godin

Genre: Business, Psychology, Careers

Who does he think I am? That guy, Seth Godin, I mean. He writes directly to the reader, me, in an easy manner and dares to call me a genius? He'd call you a genius too by the way. Right off the bat in his book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable he suggests that we have all been a genius at some point in our lives. It was that moment when we came up with a solution to a problem where no one else could.

What he posits in this personal manifesto, as he calls it, is that whether we are an employee or an employer the rules of the Industrial age no longer work. That was the age where the boss set the rules and you did as you were told usually acting like a cog in the wheel. He gives a good account in his book showing the history of how we were trained and became these cogs. Seth says that being a cog sucks out our creativity and our ability to produce our best work. And, he says, we don’t have to leave our jobs to change that, nor does it matter whether you are the boss or the employee.

He reminds me that we no longer have travel agents, and many people trade stocks without a broker now. Times have definitely changed. I can even see where I have been the cog and been reasonably comfortable with it. Much easier to do the minimum required at my nine to five job with no thinking rather than put my ideas, and myself, on the line and get shot to pieces by the boss. Oh no! I’ll stay quiet thank you! But the dilemma becomes one where I don’t feel fulfilled in my job, or I’m just plain bored, or the job feels stagnant. So I get through it, day after day.

Seth sees a future where those who succeed will do so by leveraging their talent and creativity rather than by leaning in towards obedience. What he challenges the reader to do instead is become a linchpin in their organization (and organizations linchpins in their industry). That means being the person who is thinking outside of the box, doing the job for the love of it, solving problems before they become problems, and offering solutions or new ways of doing business. He wants us to train ourselves to matter, to be indispensible. He calls that doing your ‘art’ and says that the future is being written by the artists while the factory workers struggle, “the future belongs to chefs, not cooks…[it’s] really hard to find a chef book.”

Will this be easy? Probably not and Seth says it will take emotional labor as you will have “to produce interactions that organizations and people care deeply about.” Yet in doing so you’ll get paid what you’re worth and if the company is downsizing you are less likely to be sent packing if customers and co-workers like you and know your name. As a company you are more likely to keep your customers when you invest in their needs emotionally thereby increasing organizational profits.

I really enjoyed this book and felt motivated to get up and do more. But the resistance came up immediately! This is what Seth calls the lizard brain which derails all good intentions. I highly recommend you read this book if you think there is more you could be doing in your job, your life, your organization, or even in the world. But be prepared to agree with Seth and then ignore what he is suggesting if you are anything like me. I really want to produce my ‘art’ but I’ve never looked at myself as creative and it definitely feels like it goes against the grain. Despite all this I do feel motivated and will move forward looking at my talents and creativity with new eyes in an economy and business world that I do feel is changing.

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